The CAF Production Session of Rango

by on Aug.11, 2011, under Computer Animation Festival, SIGGRAPH 2011

The CAF Production Session of “Getting Dirty: Bringing the Digital Feature ‘Rango’ to Life,” overlapped occasionally with the examples and anecdotes of yesterday’s Studio Talk about “Rango.” The overlap though was highly appropriate and hilarious in some instances, because both presentations shared the reference footage animator’s had filmed of themselves.

The inspiration for the characters was a combination of the voice talent and other references. Don Knotts in particular came up again as an inspiration for Rango. When it came to the voice recording process, rather than having the artists record separately, they were brought together so that they could play off each other. In fact, a lot of the movie was acted out so that they could use the footage as reference material. The footage was boiled down to a best of reel for inspiration.

“Rango” is a first for Industrial Light and Magic, because it’s their first animated feature. It is also Director Gore Verbinski’s first animated feature film. It posed some challenges, the biggest of which was creating the look of the film. The characters served as the centerpiece and there were 70 main characters who were created to be viewed up close. They also created 50 additional characters for the background. The initial 2D character designs were turned into 3D using ZBrush to give a rough idea of what they would look like in a 3D environment. The characters were built independently of one another and when they were brought together in a line up some concerns came up and some characters had to be modified. Lighting tests were also done with the characters just as they would be in a live action film.

The session continued with a discussion of the town of Dirt and the fact that they were going for a photographic look. The floor opened for Q&A and it was during this time that it came up that the entire movie was key framed.


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